The official of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Philomina Chieshe, who some weeks ago claimed that the board’s N36 million was swallowed by a snake, has made a U-turn.
It could be recalled that Chieshe, who works as a clerk at the JAMB office in Markurdi, Benue state, initially told top officials of the examination body that a mysterious snake swallowed the money gotten from the sale of JAMB scratch cards.
However, when she appeared before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), she confessed that the money was collected by one Samuel Umoru, her superior.
A fact sheet released by the Antigraft agency indicated that Chieshe was first quizzed on February 16th 2017 and she made additional statements on April 7 and 13 2017, May 30, 2017 and June 28, 2017.
The sheet read, “Philomina Chieshe, the lady in the eye of the Naira eating snake storm in JAMB, has been singing before the EFCC. And, contrary to her claim before the leadership of the examination body that the N36 million proceed from sale of scratch cards were eaten up by a snake, Chieshe told operatives of the anti- graft agency that the money was collected piecemeal from her by her coordinator, Mr. Samuel Sale Umoru.
In one of the statements she volunteered to the EFCC, Chieshe, who is a clerk in the Makurdi office of JAMB, revealed that the Coordinator usually asked her to withdraw proceeds of the sale of the scratch cards from her account in two new generation banks. This money i withdrew, the coordinator used it for the office and some time for himself.
She claimed that she had been warning Umoru that it was improper to use the money for miscellaneous expenses in the office or for private purposes but he would not listen.
She also claimed that Umoru was in the habit of drawing IOU from the proceeds of the sale of the cards without reimbursing her. Some of the withdrawals which she claimed were at the behest of the coordinator included the N340,000 withdrawn on May 5 and 26, 2014 with ATM card.
She also disclosed that she used her ATM card to withdraw N120,000 for the coordinator between June 17 and 18, 2014.
“He instructed me to withdraw N640,000, using my card between June 30, 2014 and July 7, 201.”
An EFCC official who spoke to The Nation, said, “The investigating team had verified the withdrawals after a careful analysis of the statements of account of the suspect. Mr. Umoru had also been arrested and questioned about claims by Chieshe. Umoru did not deny the allegations.
He was however released on administrative bail but had been reporting monthly to the anti- graft agency. The interesting aspect of the disclosure is that Chieshe’s statement was obtained long before the snake and Naira swallowing testimony became public knowledge.
In all her statements before the EFCC, there was no mention of any episode of any snake and the disappearance of monies in her care.
In a fact-sheet regarding the investigations, Chieshe was quoted to have said her superior — the coordinator at the Markurdi office — had asked her to withdraw the N36 million.”
The suspect told the antigraft agency that she had been warning Umoru that it was improper to use the money for miscellaneous expenses in the office or for private purposes but he would not listen.
Other JAMB officials being investigated include Tanko Labaran who could not account for N23 million from sale of scratch cards at the Nasarawa office, and Yakubu Jakada who is yet to explain the whereabouts of N20 million e-facilities cards sold in Kano office.
All the suspects have been released on bail pending the outcome of the antigraft agency’s investigations.